is one of the many
entertainers who've been re-discovered decades after they faded from view,
and who've now acquired an enthusiastic fan-base - all thanks to YouTube.
Known as a speciality/acrobatic dancer, Ms
LaVelle performed at theatres and nightclubs in America, her home patch
being New York City. She also made brief appearances in several mainstream
films between 1943 and 1944, and her fabulous dancing was showcased in a
1946 VodVil short.
In her heyday, Miriam LaVelle
was well rated by Billboard magazine, though with variety acts in abundance,
she was one of a vast number of entertainers providing standard fare of the time. But
what a lovely, talented young lady. And what a shame so few examples of her
dancing appear to have been captured on film. Even photos of Miriam LaVelle
are rare, many comprising murky half-tone images from
Researching the Internet has
yielded references to Ms LaVelle spanning 1941 through 1950. On 3rd July,
1950, Miriam sustained a serious gash to her head whilst rehearsing for a
television show, and the indications are that she didn't perform again after
that incident. She was only 24 years old.
References to Miriam LaVelle
outside of her professional life are few. She was born on 14th January, 1926
and a 1930 census puts Miriam and her family in Madison Avenue, Granite
City, Illinois. Their house, pictured below-right, was built in 1928 and
probably was rented, not owned, by the
Paterson family. Miriam is stated as being 4 years old, adopted by the
Patersons and born in Missouri.
Since Granite City and St
Louis look at each other across the Mississippi, it's likely that Miriam's
biological parents were from St Louis. Living in the house were Miriam's
adoptive parents, James Paterson - 38 years old, and Miriam Paterson - 36
Years old, and also Dixie Paterson - 13, Jean Paterson - 3, and Birdie Goetz
- 23 (female).
It's likely that the
Patersons moved to Crum Lynne near Chester, Pennsylvania when Miriam was
around 5 years old as James Paterson had a brother living there. Local
newspapers picked up on her school acrobatic prowess when she was 6 years
By 1940, Miriam LaVelle
was enjoying a professional career in speciality dancing in theatre, film
and television. But it ended abruptly in 1950 and sadly her life was to be
I spoke at length to
LaVerne Strotheide, a close friend of Miriam's, and she said that in 1958
she (LaVerne) had been in touch with the Shone family, cousins of Miriam.
They had reported seeing Miriam wheelchair-bound and suffering from
Neuphritis, an inflammatory condition of the kidneys.
Miriam LaVelle passed
away on 20th October, 1958. She had married Robert W Rhodes in 1957, and all
references to Miriam's passing quoted her as Miriam LaVelle Rhodes.
Someone kindly sent me a
funeral notice they'd found in a Los Angeles newspaper archive. It stated
that a Requiem Mass would be held for Miriam at St Paul's Catholic Church,
4112 West Washington Boulevard, and that Interment would be at the Holy
Cross Roman Catholic cemetery in Culver City, the final resting place for
many of the Hollywood luminaries.
I hope to continue
researching this fascinating lady's short but eventful life - so Watch this